Brown locust outbreak hits Eastern Cape

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Locusts start to fly in the morning hours after roosting in the trees overnight on May 21, 2020 in Samburu County, Kenya.
Locusts start to fly in the morning hours after roosting in the trees overnight on May 21, 2020 in Samburu County, Kenya.
Fredrik Lerneryd/Getty Images
  • The Eastern Cape government has warned of a brown locust outbreak in two of the province's districts.
  • The brown locust is a classified agricultural pest in South Africa, and it prefers grasses and cereals.
  • Authorities say the locusts are currently in stage one and two, before flying can occur.


 

The Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform released a statement on Monday warning of a brown locust outbreak in the province's Sarah Baartman and Chris Hani districts.

The provincial department said it worked with the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to detect the outbreak.

"The known affected areas are currently Middelburg Cape, Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Cradock, Nieu-Bethesda, Pearston and Jansenville on 127 farms," the statement said.

According to the statement, the brown locust is a classified agricultural pest in South Africa and while it tends to prefer grasses and cereals, other crops can also be attacked.

The department statement said emerging farmers in the affected districts would undergo training to participate in a pest management program to manage the swarms before they reach the flying stage. 

Department entomologist Nolitha Skenjana said the locusts are currently in stage one and two, which was a "good time for spraying to occur".

"We are now left in estimation with just more than 21 days, then they will be flying, and it will be difficult to spray them at that time," Skenjana said.

According to the provincial department, egg hatching among brown locusts begins in September after the first rains and continues in October with flying commencing in December.

Earlier this year, the department confirmed an outbreak of brown locusts in the northwestern Karoo, with interventions similarly beginning at the early stages.

This followed an outbreak of desert locusts in East Africa, which had devastating impact on crops in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. 

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